Types of MSD

General issues

The following may be felt as minor aches or pains. Medical treatment and time off work may be required where the condition is more serious.

Bone pain: most commonly results from injury and is usually a deep penetrating or dull pain.

Muscle pain: is often a result of an injury but can also be due to an infection or a tumour or from loss of blood flow to the muscle.

Joint pain: can be worse when moving the joint, and can present as stiffness or an aching, ‘arthritic’ type of pain.

Bursae pain: is worse with movement involving the bursa (a small fluid-filled sac that provides a protective cushion around a joint). It is often caused by trauma, over-use, gout or an infection.

Tendon and ligament pain: is caused by injuries such as sprains. This type of issue often becomes worse when the affected area is stretched or moved.

Nerve pain: occurs when pressure is applied to the nerve, which both limits its functioning and causes damage. Due to repetitive motions and awkward postures, the tissues surrounding nerves become swollen, and squeeze or compress nerves.8

Soft-tissue damage: is most commonly caused by trauma as a result of sudden impact, force, vibration or unbalanced positions.

Back pain: can be caused by damage to the muscles or bones of the spine and ribs or to the discs between the vertebrae. A common factor in back pain is tasks involving repeated exposure to high- or low-intensity loads over a period, or trauma from an incident.

Common MSDs

Some types of MSDs relate to particular areas of the body.

Upper limb disorders

Upper limb disorder (ULDs) is a term given to a group of conditions affecting upper limbs – the hands, arms, shoulders and neck. If they are caused by work, they will be recognised as work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs).

Conditions covered by this term are:

  • tenosynovitis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • frozen shoulder
  • bursitis of the elbow
  • osteoarthritis
  • tendonitis
  • muscle strain
  • tennis or golfer’s elbow
  • repetitive strain injury
  • vibration syndrome
  • vibration white finger
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • gout
  • fractures
  • sprains.

Three factors are known to provoke or cause ULDs:

  • posture or the angle at which the arm is held
  • force or tension created in the nerves and tendons
  • how long a force is applied or how often the task is carried out.

Lower limb disorders

Lower limb disorders (LLDs), specifically affect the hips, back, legs, knees, ankles and feet. If work has caused the disorders, they will be referred to as work-related lower limb disorders (WRLLDs). Common disorders include:

  • osteoarthritis
  • varicose veins
  • muscle tear damage
  • knee bursitis
  • meniscal lesions or tears
  • stress fracture or reaction injury
  • hernia
  • gout
  • fractures
  • sprains.

Common factors in lower limb disorders occurring in the workplace:

  • repetitive kneeling or squatting
  • long periods of standing
  • frequent jumping from height.